Overland Park has new rules that encourage residents to grow native plants.
This week, the Overland Park City Council approved an update to the city’s weed and vegetation enforcement act to allow for growing native plants.
The city’s ordinance was last updated in 2011, and included an outdated definition of weeds that were not allowed to be grown in Overland Park yards. For example, milkweed was on the city’s noxious weeds list.
“The ordinance was also out of sync with sustainable landscaping practices promoted through the city’s stormwater cost share program,” said City Sustainability Manager Lara Isch. “This program promotes beneficial native plantings and rain gardens, and the update brings the city’s code into alignment with that goal.”
The updated ordinance creates exemptions to height rules for vegetation, allowing planned sustainable landscapes, ornamental gardens and food-producing gardens. City staff used guidance from Mid-America Regional Council, including that sustainable landscaping must have a clearly-defined boundary and be set back from nearby property.
The ordinance update also removes the city’s definition of “weeds” – relying on expertise from the Kansas Department of Agriculture regarding which weeds are harmful.
“Native plants provide numerous benefits to our city and ecosystems. Once established, they’re easy to maintain, don’t require fertilizer, and help our clay soils absorb stormwater,” said Isch. “Of course, they also support other native species. Every native garden that we have is a source of food and shelter for our native wildlife.”
Enforcement of the ordinance remains largely the same, meaning residents must still mow their lawns (keeping them at eight inches tall or less), and keep their flower beds and gardens free of noxious weeds.
To learn more about the update to the ordinance or the city’s stormwater cost share program, visit opkansas.org.